An Italian Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft completed first transatlantic ocean crossing.
The aircraft arrived at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. from Cameri Air Base, Italy, on February 5 at 2:24 p.m. Eastern time.
The aircraft will begin three months of Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (EEE) evaluation and certification while at Naval Air System Command’s Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test (IBST) facility, F-35 Joint Program Office said in a statement Monday.
AL-1 will join the F-35 international pilot training fleet at Luke Air Force Base in May, the first of five F-35s Italy has committed to the international training fleet there. The next group of Italian pilots will start training at Luke in March with US and other foreign students in the multi-national training program.
The two-phase deployment across the North Atlantic to the US required a total of 11 flight hours, enabled by an Italian Air Force KC-767aerial refueling tanker, which refueled AL-1 seven times during the ocean crossing.
AL-1 departed Cameri, near Milan, on Feb. 4 and flew the first leg of its journey with an Italian tanker and Typhoon escort aircraft to Lajes Air Base, the Azores, Portugal. After remaining overnight, AL-1, the KC-767 tanker, and Typhoon continued onward to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, landing on the afternoon of Feb. 5.
The Italian F-35 pilot, Major Gian Marco D said, “The aircraft was safe all of the time and able to fulfill the mission. We never had an issue. It is really stable behind the [KC-] 767.”
AL-1’s arrival in the US demonstrates Italian industry’s capability to build and sustain a fifth generation fighter, an achievement made possible through the close partnership between US and Italian governments and defense leadership.